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National Journal: Latino Community CU Serves Immigrants
DURHAM, N.C. (3/13/13)--By understanding the special financial needs of immigrants--many of whom only speak Spanish fluently--Latino Community CU (LCCU) based in Durham, N.C., and with a total of 10 branches in six North Carolina cities, is a standout financial institution in a changing economy, notes the prominent Washington publication National Journal in a feature story this week.

The article, which included background information provided by the Credit Union National Association, explained that the $115 million asset LCCU has many members who don't speak fluent English, live paycheck to paycheck and have never opened a deposit account.

Because of a crime wave in Durham in the late 1990s in which muggers targeted Latinos because they tended to carry large amounts of cash in lieu of any financial accounts, LCCU was initially chartered as a response to that problem. Nationwide, roughly 20% of Latino households don't have a deposit account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 

In its eight years of existence, LCCU, which serves more than 54,000 members, has seen robberies decline by 4.2% each time it has opened a new branch, according to a University of Virginia study, said the National Journal. Also in that time period, property values in host counties increased nearly 4%, constituting $9.8 billion in overall property-value growth.

By opening accounts at the credit union to make deposits, many members now are moving into  the ranks of the middle class, Erika Bell, LCCUs vice president of strategy and service, told the publication. "They now own a home, they have gotten into the habit of budgeting and saving, and have kind of been integrated into the mainstream financial system," she added.

LCCU has contracted with the well-established State Employees' CU in Raleigh, N.C., with $25.1 billion in assets, for its bookkeeping needs and some other financial management issues so it can concentrate on front-office outreach, the National Journal said.

The article is part of a series on "The New Economy," a joint project of National Journal and The Atlantic magazines.

To read the article, use the link.
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